Our favourite chocolate slabs

Sometimes I make my own chocolate for this and other times, which I’ve got here, I melt bought chocolate. Most health food shops and delis have lovely 70% dark chocolate so it is easy to come by. Even the Old Gold will do! So use your favourite chocolate, your favourite glace fruits, your favourite nuts and guess what?! You’ll be making your favourite chocolate!

Hazelnuts and ginger!

Ingredients

2 large blocks (at least 220g) of dark chocolate

Glazed cherries

Glace ginger

Glace apricots (or another glace fruit you love)

Roasted hazelnuts (or another nut you adore)

 

Method

Break up your chocolate and place in a steel bowl. Boil a cup of water in small saucepan with the steel bowl on top. Stir every now and then to melt the chocolate through. Once melted, take off the heat and whisk your chocolate until smooth.

Pour your chocolate into a bread tin or your fav banana bread loaf pan that is lined with baking paper. Now dot the other ingredients as you wish. I’ve placed the ginger and nuts together in one tin, whilst in another I’ve combined the glace fruits. Set aside for at least 5 hours until set. I usually serve this cut up in random pieces in lieu of after dinner mints. But hey, if its 10am on a Tuesday and you want to go for it, take it from Nike and ‘just do it’!

Cherries and apricots!

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Our favourite chocolate slabs

Muesli bars

These little beauties are cheap and cheerful! I can’t believe how much some people spend on these at the stores, and they’ve got so many little numbers and preservatives written on the box it scares me. So I chose to use the Carman brand of muesli as it has less of the bad, and more of the good! But use whatever muesli you like! This makes me about 12 good size muesli bars. Have a crack and see what you think!

 

Ingredients

Carman’s apple, date and cinnamon muesli

½ cup of honey

60 g dark chocolate if you want it

 

Method

Melt your honey, and then pour it over two cups of the muesli. Use whatever muesli whoever is eating this likes. Stir through really well, coating everything. If you feel you need a little more wetness, just add a little more honey.

Line a slice tray with baking paper, and then spon your mixture into the tray. Press down the mixture well, taking your time. Sometimes I use the back of a spoon, but when my kids make this, they use their hands for fun! Bake your slice at 200 degrees Celsius for about 15 to 20 minutes – just check it is golden brown and not burning!

If you would like a little chocolate, simply melt some chocolate, dark or milk, and then drizzle over your slice once it has cooled down. Cut into portions and then you can keep in an air lock container or individually wrap. This will last about a week.

PS I scrape up the crumbs from the cutting and pop them on top of some Greek yoghurt for a treat! Waste not, want not!

Muesli bars

Caribbean chicken

This dish can be served at a banquet dinner, or relished as a weekday family meal, it really is that versatile. Browning the sugar before adding everything else lifts the chicken, and the breakdown of the meat is as if it has been slow cooked all day. Enjoy this fabulous, stress-free dinner!

 

Ingredients

Splash of olive oil

1 kg chicken thighs

3 chicken breasts

2 onions, cut into quarters

6 garlic cloves, chopped rough

2 tomatoes, cut into large chunks

½ cup Worcestershire sauce

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

A sprinkle of salt and pepper

5 sprigs of thyme

½ cup tomato paste

A handful of parsley, chopped roughly

 

Method

Place the chicken, garlic, balsamic, onions, garlic, tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, salt, pepper and thyme into a bowl and stir together. Cover and pop in the fridge for at least half an hour. Go grab a cuppa, read that next chapter, or finish that paperwork!

Now upon returning, sprinkle the sugar into a large deep frypan you have a lid for. Heat on a medium flame for a few minutes, adding the olive oil.

When the sugar starts to change colour spoon everything from the marinade bowl into the saucepan. Once you’ve stirred it around and the chicken is browning, add the tomato paste and a cup of water. Cover and simmer over a low heat for about 45 minutes.

Break up any big pieces of chicken roughly using a fork or your spoon, this will soak up any liquid in the pan. Simmer for ten minutes with the lid off and serve! I usually serve this with ‘all our favourites rice’ or Moroccan rice. However you serve it, serve with love!

Caribbean chicken

All our favs Persian rice

Do you like Persian food? My family seem to take to the beautiful spices, the lovely dried fruits, and the beautiful freshness of it all. This side dish is very simple to make, yet looks inviting and is wonderful on the taste buds! Whether it be for a dinner party or a casual lunch at home, give this beautiful unassuming dish a whirl!

 

Ingredients

2 cups steamed brown rice

Splash of olive oil

A red onion, diced

A red capcisum, diced

A can of chickpeas, drained and washed

Half a handful of dried cranberries

A handful of dried figs, chopped

Half a handful of dried apricots, sliced

3 tbs Moroccan seasoning

Handful of coriander, roughly chopped

 

Method

Swirl your olive oil in a large, deep frypan over medium heat. Add your onions and cook for a few minutes. Now add your capsicums and cook for a couple of minutes. Scoop your rice in, along with everything else and stir until combined. Continue to heat for about ten minutes and then serve immediately or cover and wait until you’re ready for it! Just before serving sprinkle with your coriander and mix through. Too easy!

All our favs Persian rice

Middle Eastern pumpkin and zucchini

With just a handful of ingredients, this recipe is full of colour and bursting with flavour! I purchase a dukkah for this that is almond based with a Moroccan style flavour, but any Middle Eastern style dukkah will be fabulous, so long as you like it! This is dinner in 30 minutes, perfect for weeknights or for a side dish at a big gathering. I hope you like it!

 

 

Ingredients

1 small butternut pumpkin, cut into 1 cm cubes (does about 3 cups of cubed pumpkin)

6 cloves of garlic, chopped roughly

3 zucchinis, spiralled into strings

3 tbs almond dukkah middle eastern spice

¼ cup water

Splash of olive oil

 

Method

Heat your splash of olive oil in a large based pan that you have a lid for. Add the garlic and saute for a few minutes on medium heat. Add the pumpkin and water, covering with the lid. This will steam the pumpkin and cook it almost through. Now take the lid off and add your zucchini and spice. Time to turn the heat up! Stir occasionally over a high heat for about ten minutes until the pupkin is cooked through and the aroma of that beautiful dukkah fills the air! Ta da! You’re done! It really is that easy!

 

Middle Eastern pumpkin and zucchini

vegetable stew with herbed dumplings

This is one of my favourite winter dishes! The flavour of the vegetables is just sensational, and the dumplings give that real homely loving warmth to your gut, like walking down the main street of your home town. If you prefer another type of pumpkin, use it instead, I use butternut as it is my favourite.

 

Ingredients for the stew

Half a butternut pumpkin

8 small potatoes, skin on and washed

A red onion, diced

2 shallots, diced, whites included

2 carrots, chopped

2 tsp vegetable stock powder

Salt and pepper to your liking

A handful of parsley, roughly chopped

 

Ingredients for dumplings

125 g butter

2 ½ cups self-raising flour

2 splashes of milk

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

2 sprigs of rosemary, chopped

1 tsp salt

 

Method

Place all ingredients for the stew in a large pot you have a lid for. Now fill with water to the vegetable line. Simmer covered for about half an hour, stirring every now and then. Whilst the stew is slowly melding together, you can make your dumplings.

Place your flour in a bowl and rub the butter into it using your fingertips. It will look like rough sand. Now add the cheese, milk, rosemary and salt. Stir with a flat knife until combined. If it is too sticky, add a bit more flour, a heaped teaspoon at a time. If not forming into a nice dough, add a little more milk, again, just a teaspoon at a time. Your dough should be wet but able to be touched without getting it all over you.

Transfer your stew to a large baking dish, I’ve used my lasagne dish. Now form balls of dough into dumplings and pop on top of your stew.

Brush the dumplings lightly with a little milk. Your dish goes into the oven for about half an hour on 180 degrees Celsius. I hope you enjoy this family favourite!

vegetable stew with herbed dumplings

Honey buns

We call our daughter ‘honeybun’ as a nickname. So when I saw honeybuns at a bakery a few months ago, I just had to have a go at making them! They were a huge hit and we liked them piping hot as is, and cold the next day with a smidge of butter – ok – a lot of butter, enough our teeth marks were visible for the coroner if the butter gave us a heart attack!! I hope you enjoy these lovely little morsels!

Ingredients

2/3 cup of local honey

4 to 5 cups of plain flour

1 ½ cups of milk

200 g butter

2 teaspoons of active yeast

2 eggs

2 tsp salt

 

Method

Heat your milk in a saucepan over a medium heat. When warmed, put about 150 g of the butter in and melt it, then add about 1/3 of a cup of your honey. When all melded together and smelling lovely, pour your mix into your electric mixer bowl. Ensure the mix is warm but not hot, otherwise the yeast will die when you sprinkle it in. Now add your yeast and leave to the side for about 15 minutes. This gives you time to find some baking trays and line them with baking paper.

Add both eggs and the salt to your frothy mix and beat on a low speed with the bread hook attachment. If you don’t have an electric mixer use a flat steel knife and stir yourself. Now add the flour bit by bit, until the dough is doughy enough to be touched but not too sticky. It should feel nice and be able to be hand kneaded if you like. Even if I have hand kneaded this, I put a tea towel over it whilst back in the bowl to leave it for an hour or so.

Now the dough is bigger and looking fermented! Time to roll on! Grab a small handful of the mix and roll in your hands. You can roll them into balls and pop them straight on the baking trays, or you can roll them into a little log like I’ve done this time and then tie them in a knot! Once you’ve got the dough rolled and your little parcels are all placed lovingly, put them in the oven without the oven being on, for about half an hour. You will see them rise a bit more.

Now you can melt the rest of the butter (about 50 g) with the rest of the honey (the other 1/3 of a cup). This is used to brush the little morsels over and give them a lovely glaze. Pop your oven on about 190 degrees Celsius and bake your little buns for about 15 minutes until golden brown and the aroma of love fills the house! Serve warm, or cold later, whichever way you do, they’ll go down a treat!

 

 

Honey buns